A WOOF Over Their Heads

Ten years after a devastating fire tore through the Jacksonville Humane Society, claiming the lives of more than 80 animals, the organization has opened a new 40,000-square-foot facility that will provide healthier and safer living conditions for dogs and cats.

I sat with JHS Executive Director Denise Deisler to bark about the new digs and resources on offer to both people and pets.

Davi: How will the new facility help save the lives of pets in our community?
Denise Deisler: Our new center provides healthier space for our animals and a happier place for our community to visit. It includes isolation rooms, top-notch medical facilities, exercise areas, climate-controlled housing, and many features such as group play and music to make our four-legged and two-legged guests comfortable.

What assistance is available?
Programs are tailored to individual family needs and range from pet food bank, housing and medical assistance, temporary boarding during crises, to assistance with finding a new home should separation be necessary. Those in need can schedule an appointment.

How can people support the JHS?
Cash donations are always welcome! We still need to raise an additional $4 million for the new building. We also love our volunteers, so a gift of time and talent is another way to affect the work at JHS.

How many pets are cared for through your programs?
We shelter more than 6,000 dogs and cats each year, provide services to another 25,000 through our affordable veterinary clinic and assist about 5,000 whose families are facing life changes or emergency circumstances.

Do most animals find homes?
Yes. JHS is a no-kill facility and Jacksonville is a no-kill community. Approximately 94 percent of all animals entering our shelter move on to loving homes.

Do you offer medical care for adoptable pets?
We provide routine care such as vaccinations, preventatives and spay/neuter surgery as well as treatment for illness, disease or injury.

Do you provide training for adoptable pets?
Teaching or reinforcing existing training is part of our day-to-day animal interactions. In addition, we design and implement training specific to individual pets’ needs on a case-by-case basis.

Do you educate prospective pet parents before an adoption?
We view our adoption process as the beginning of a relationship and take the time to get to know the individual adopter and respond to their needs. We provide one-on-one education, training emails and videos as well as ongoing assistance when requested.

What programs are in place to help promote pet adoptions?
More and more, people begin their search for a pet online, so social media is a critical tool for us. In addition, we participate in community events. We also offer education programs for kids, like Pawsitive Reading, a program in which children hone their skills as they read to shelter pets and Critter Camp, designed to educate youth about compassion, respect and responsibility through the humane treatment of animals.

Whether new and fancy or old and in need of a makeover, animal shelters need community support and compassion to survive. As the saying goes, ‘Whoever saves a life, saves the world entire.’

Davi the dachshund is pawsitively verklempt with joy over the opening of the new JHS.